This Sugar Cookie Frosting is smooth and creamy and has a special ingredient that gives it a bakery-style flavor. So quick and easy you’ll never use store bought frosting again.
Spread the frosting or melt it and dip your cookies right into it. Whichever method you choose you’ll have beautiful and delicious frosted sugar cookies!
Why you’ll love this recipe
Taste: This frosting tastes incredible! A combination of vanilla extract and almond extract impart a bakery-style flavor to this creamy frosting.
Ease: This frosting comes together in under 10 minutes. No fancy techniques; it’s quick and easy!
Basic ingredients: You only need a handful of ingredients to assemble this frosting: butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
Variety: You can top cookies by spreading the frosting with a small knife, piping it on, or melting it and dipping cookies into it. You can easily change the color of the frosting by adding food coloring.
Sugar cookie frosting that actually tastes good!
The BEST thing about this frosting: It tastes fantastic.
I’ve had way too many sugar cookies that are beautifully decorated but don’t actually taste good. I am ALL about flavor (we are actually eating these), so flavor should never be secondary.
This frosting won’t give you quite the precision that you get from decorating with something like royal icing, BUT, you will be blown away by the flavor difference.
This a buttercream-style frosting recipe that has a smooth and creamy texture with a sweet and buttery vanilla flavor.
Butter: Unsalted butter works best here. Butter should be softened but still slightly cool to the touch.
Powdered sugar: This sweetens and thickens the frosting.
Milk: A little splash of milk or half and half helps to make the frosting creamy.
Vanilla extract: This gives the classic frosting flavor. Be sure sure to use pure vanilla extract, not imitation
Almond extract: Just a tiny bit of almond extract is my secret ingredient! This adds a little something extra to the frosting and gives it a bakery-style flavor.
Sugar cookie frosting two ways
Spread or pipe: Use a small knife or a piping bag with different tips to transfer the frosting onto your cookies.
Melt and dip: After assembling the frosting, melt it in the microwave (adding a little more milk to thin it out). Once the frosting is thin and melted, dip the sugar cookies face down into the melted frosting. This will create an even coating of frosting on the top of the cookies.
- Use butter that is softened but still cool to the touch. The butter should be soft enough that it blends easily, but not so soft that it is losing its shape and starting to melt.
- Sift powdered sugar if lumpy. Depending on the brand of powdered sugar that you use there might be some small lumps throughout. If so, you can sift it or whisk it to break up the lumps before adding it to the butter.
- This frosting can easily be adjusted to be more thick or thin by adding more powdered sugar to thicken or more milk to thin.
FAQ: Does this frosting harden?
This frosting will firm up when chilled but it will not be as hard as a royal icing. When chilled, the consistency will be a bit softer than cold butter. At room temperature the frosting will soften.
Stacking and storing frosted cookies
Chill the frosted cookies in a single layer until the frosting firms up. If you add sprinkles and/or sparkling sugar to your frosted cookies I find that this creates a nice barrier for stacking.
Stack and store the chilled cookies, tightly sealed, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Sugar cookie frosting storage
Frosting can be stored in the refrigerator (in an airtight container) for up to one week. Bring frosting to room temperature before using it. Note: frosting can absorb odors from the fridge so make sure it is well sealed.
Sugar Cookie Frosting
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to cool room temp (still cool to the touch)
- 3 cups powdered sugar*, sifted if lumpy
- 1 tablespoon half and half or milk*, plus more as needed
- 1 ¾ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- pinch salt
Sugar cookie frosting:
- Using a hand mixer, or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and half of the powdered sugar until well-combined (starting out the mixer low and increasing to medium-high). Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar (while beating), followed by extracts, pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon milk. Continue to add more milk, a little bit at a time, until you get a creamy spreadable frosting. If desired, you can add food coloring at this point.
- Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat well. Depending on how thick you want the frosting, you can easily adjust the consistency by adding more powdered sugar (to thicken) or more milk (to thin).
Frosting to spread or pipe:
- Use a piping bag, small knife, or spreader to add the frosting to baked and cooled sugar cookies. Immediately top with sprinkles, if using.
Melted dippable frosting:
- Prepare the frosting above adding extra powdered sugar and milk (see note).
- Working with half of the frosting at a time: Place frosting in a wide shallow bowl and microwave for 15-20 seconds. Stir really well. The frosting should be melty and thin. Microwave for a few more seconds, and add a splash of milk, if necessary, to get it thin enough.
- Working quickly, dip each sugar cookie face down into the frosting. Move the cookie around a bit, then flip it over and jiggle it back and forth to get the frosting to settle into an even layer. Top with sprinkles, if using, then set aside to allow the frosting to set.
- Note: The frosting will firm up as it cools, so you might need to microwave it again to thin it out. Once you have used the first half of the frosting, proceed with microwaving the second half.
Nutritional Information is an estimate based on third-party calculations and may vary based on products used and serving sizes.